Friday, June 19, 2015

Fish Tacos with Tomatillo-Jalapeño Salsa

Summer break has officially commenced in our household! I excitedly greeted my now-first grader yesterday morning "Happy first day of summer!!" She looked at me like I was the dumbest human to ever walk the planet and said retorted "Mom. It's not summer yet." And so I stood corrected.

Regardless of what the calendar says exactly, the weather here has be oh-so-summer like and I have been planning my weekly menus accordingly. We are in full-blown fast, fresh and grilled mode and I am loving it. I have been making it a point to incorporate seafood more often, primarily because I sort of accidentally discovered that seafood is one item that all my kids love.

Typically when I think of fish tacos, my mouth goes dry as I think about trying to swallow a mouthful of corn tortilla filled with overcooked sea life. I was determined to counter this mental presumption and make something moist and mouth-watering. Then I stumbled upon this recipe which seemed easy enough. I immediately changed the corn tortillas called for to my new-found favorite tortilla from Trader Joe's that includes a marriage of corn and wheat together in the same delectable tortilla. I knew this change would result in a moister taco right off the bat but of course, if you need the recipe to be gluten free, stick with the plain corn tortillas and you'll be good to go (the salsa provides a good amount of moisture).

I have always been a little curious about (or maybe terrified by?) tomatillos, never having cooked with them myself. Basically a green tomato wrapped in a husky, sticky skin, it seemed this recipe would break me in easy and help me conquer my hesitation. And it did! All I had to do was peel them and put them in a blender? Not too intimidating. My belated 30th birthday gift to myself had been a refurbished Vitamix blender which had spent the entirety of it's life with me up until that point in storage as we had purchased and were remodeling our new-to-us home. Tomatillo salsa seemed like the perfect maiden voyage for my beloved Vitamix. Call me naive but I really didn't know one could make salsa in a blender. Now I'm a believer and I'll preach it from the hill tops because it is SO EASY, not to mention awesome to spend so much less of ones life with knife in hand chopping. Even if you don't have a Vitamix, use whatever blender you have for this salsa. Simply pulse together your ingredients, being sure to avoid over-blending it into a puree. Voila! Fresh, easy salsa.

Once you have your salsa completed, the hard part is over (and really all you had to do was press the "pulse" button repeatedly). Now, simply toss together the lemon juice, olive oil, cilantro and garlic with the fish and season with salt. This recipe calls for halibut (which I've used) but more budget-friendly alternatives include cod, tilapia or even sole (pictured above). The fish is cooked quickly on a grill pan over moderately high heat and then flaked into bite-sized pieces for the tacos. I believe the taco fixins are just about as important as the taco itself and some of my favorites for this one include, avocado, sliced red onion and crumbled feta. An easy and frequent taco accompaniment at our house is cabbage slaw which can be served on the side or even used as a filling for the tacos. Combine shredded cabbage, carrot, chopped green onion and cilantro in a large bowl and then dress simply with olive oil, fresh-squeezed lime juice and salt and pepper. So fast, so yummy.

Ok readers, I am told that technically, for the type A personalities among us, summer is actually two days away. But I give you permission to cook like it's already here. Happy almost summer, People!

Fish Tacos with Tomatillo-Jalapeño Salsa
(enhanced from Food and Wine Magazine)

4 medium tomatillos—husked, rinsed and quartered
1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro
2 small jalapeños, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Kosher salt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 pound skinless halibut fillet (or other white fish such as cod or tilapia), about 3/4 inch thick
Kosher salt

Warm corn and wheat tortillas
Chopped avocado
Sliced red onion
Crumbed feta

MAKE THE SALSA In a blender, combine all of the ingredients except the salt and puree until nearly smooth. Season with salt and transfer to a small bowl.

MAKE THE TACOS Heat a grill pan. In a large baking dish, whisk the lemon juice with the olive oil, cilantro and garlic. Add the fish and turn to coat. Season the fish all over with salt and grill over moderately high heat, turning once, until white throughout, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the fish to a platter and flake into large pieces with a fork. Serve in warm corn tortillas with the salsa, avocado, red onion and cucumber.


The salsa can be refrigerated for 3 days.

Serves 4

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posted by kelsie